“Unskewing” Obamacare Enrollment

As the period for initial enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s new individual insurance offerings comes to an end, the loudest noise in the air is of conservatives objecting to the increasingly positive enrollment numbers. In writing about Obamacare Denialism (my term, not his), TNR’s Jonathan Cohn makes an interesting general observation:

[T]hese figures would seem to undermine—or at least weaken—the argument that Obamacare is a catastrophic failure. Republicans and many of their allies obviously think otherwise. They are doing what they almost always do when data confounds their previously held beliefs. They are challenging the statistics—primarily, by suggesting that most of the people getting insurance already had coverage. Some, like Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, say the administration is “cooking the books.” Others, like Senator Ted Cruz, say that the number of people without insurance is actually rising.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it resembles the dynamics we witnessed prior to the 2012 presidential election, when Republicans insisted polls consistently showing Obama cruising towards re-election were “skewed” (and even needed to be “unskewed”).

As with the 2012 elections, we will soon reach a point where objective reality catches up with all the projections and spin. Maybe those predicting an enrollment disaster for Obamacare will turn out to be right, but the odds of that happening are shrinking every day: hence the volume level of the Denialists is increasing to a high-pitched chattering whine.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.